Vince Seneri: Street Talk (2005)
"Steamrollin" is described as "dedicated and written for Jimmy Smith by Vince Seneri," but where Smith swung like ". . ." (quoting the three dots from somebody else's album title of long ago), the bad balance of boom chicka, boom-chick, etc., doesn't contribute drive but loads on needless emphases, like an excess of punctuation. It's not a natural balance, the super-clarity and over-crispness of drum sound sounding like a result of silly over-boosting. Or is it an electronic drum kit turned up too loud? I don't think so. The organist's bass part is tonally thin, like an electric bass rather than a good old pushing upright.
The first track doesn't help, because when you're looking for music to take you away from where you are, the ideally preferred destination usually doesn't resemble a supermarket. While all these guys can play, here there's some feel of a set of top line studio professionals not stretching themselves to make an organ jazz album, playing many of the same notes which (but never quite as) the masters did.
Bob DeVos' sometimes Wes Montgomery-ish guitar work is very competent, though slack on the opening title, as just for once is Dave Valentin's flute. On the other hand, the flute blends with Seneri's Hammond organ into amazing textures on "Straight No Chaser": I've never heard the like, and somebody could lift that with profit. Valentin's occasional rips and overblowings seem slightly out of place, though it's a nice try on his part and I'll remember his name.
"Fathead" Newman is his usual reliable self, and Houston Person plays some velvety mid-tempo tenor on "Walking My Baby Back Home." Person's ballad take on "These Foolish Things" is pretty good for quite a while, though there's only thin ice between the organist's skates and a lake of sentimentality. He doesn't go through, however, although Person finally plunges in with a splash of funk clichés that nobody will be hearing for the first time.
And all through there's "chikh," "chikk" from a cymbal on which the treble's turned up too high. It's not pretentious to talk of a lack of spiritual ambition here, given the affinities of this sort of organ jazz with the music called soul.
Track Listing: Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise; Unchain My Heart; Steamrollin'; Flamingo; Reccato Bossanova; These Foolish Things; Straight, No Chaser; Organ Boogaloo; Feat for FOUR; Beautiful Love; Walking My Baby Back Home; There Is No Greater Love.
Personnel: Vince Seneri: Hammond B3 organ; Bob DeVos: guitar; Buddy Williams: drums; Gary Fritz: Percussion; Dave 'Fathead' Newman: tenor sax (2,8); Dave Valentin: flute (1,5,7); Houston Person: tenor sax (4,6,11).
Record Label: SenFul